In the past few years the usage of “raw” and “selvedge” have gained enormous amounts of popularity in regards to denim. At LP we don’t claim to know everything about this subculture but rather we’ve done our homework and we appreciate the art form. We as a lot of others were confused about what the difference is between a pair of $200 and $50 denim was? What is raw denim and what is selvedge denim? We did our research and wanted to share this with all of you.
We’ll aim to be concise but there are always little caveats so bare with us.
Raw denim is simply untreated denim. This means no rinses or washes after the jean has been dipped in indigo. Jeans go through a process where they are cut, assembled, and eventually dyed in indigo (the reason why your jeans are blue). The indigo then is left on the jeans as is. No additional treatment is done which would rid of the excess dye.
What this allows for is indigo loss. Why is this important? Well, if you have ever heard of the term, “fades”, this is directly related to the loss of indigo. Because the denim is untreated, the jean usually is very stiff when purchased raw. The consumer will wear the jean repeatedly and will cause the jean to crease in various locations which causes tension on the denim. The denim at those points will begin losing indigo more quickly because the denim has loosened.
Selvedge is the derive from “self edge” which is the finished portion of the denim fabric. The practice is from the way denim used to be produced on old shuttle looms. This finished edge is much more resilient to fraying which helps further reinforce the strength of selvedge. When selvedge denim is created, these ends are sewn together which help create a very strong and tight-knit pair of denim.
Nowadays many other brands have popularized this term and have brought various ranges of selvedge denim to the market. Selvedge used to be a general indicator of quality, but now due to commercialization and we wouldn’t say that everything that is deemed selvedge denim is truly top notch quality.
Raw denim does not imply selvedge denim and vice versa. These are two completely different terms regarding the denim. Denim that is raw doesn’t have to be selvedge and selvedge denim can come in pre-distressed and pre-washed styles as well, so not necessarily raw.
There is a lot of value and personalization in these types of jeans and makers who give us the opportunity to not only have a very unique product, but also to have a long-lasting and durable product as well. We hope we helped clarify some questions you had and that you consider taking a look into these options for durable denim.